Division of Jonglei State is not an end Solution to the tribal violent: The problem is the People, Not the Land!

By Peter Reat Gatkuoth

If the government is in total failure to protect and enforce law against the violators, nothing in the present days shall impair the inherent right of the Lou Nuer members to defense themselves from enemy or revenges if need be. The Lou Nuer Youth must always have a penultimate choice in absent of government to protect the vulnerable members from external threat.

December 29, 2011 (SSNA) — The Jonglei most deadly spate of intercommunal violence since the end of 21 years of civil war in 2005 had brought death of more than 10, 000 men, children and women. This longest insecurity and tribal fighting had been there, and it continued for many years in Southern Sudan. This community had been in partial conflict with Nuer, Dinka and Anyuak in the region before the formation of the SPLM/SPLA.

I believe Hon. Ismail Konye would have been a good eyewitness to this tribal conflict since his age indicated that he would have once been a member of the Murle’s Age Traditional Youth Association.  Settlement of conflict between these tribes was proved elusive back in years because of the Murle’s youth leadership that change with age, time and each groups had their own economic agenda and plan of gaining wealth from neighboring tribes by looting cattle, raiding villages,  kidnapping Children and Women as well.

After the long struggle of the marginalized communities, South Sudan has recently achieved its independent nation through peaceful process. We all thought that the modality of peaceful approach should be embraced by all communities, and carry on to the tribal congregated areas with the help of elders, paramount chiefs, and local youth representatives, constituencies’ representatives in the State and parliamentarian members in South Sudan.  The negotiations to facilitate the transition from war to peace are more than a means to end the tribal armed hostilities. Mediation in war torn is an opportunities to agree new political, constitutional and economic arrangements in order to address the underlying conflict and to lay down the foundations for a more inclusive political settlement.

The Murle were unfriendly and fought unreasonable war against the other Jonglei’s communities simple because of cattle issue driven by Murle community’s lifestyle, believe and value. For instance in Murle culture, young men are confirmed as strong men only when they kidnap children, brought cattle and taking women as slave from other communities. If peace had to be adapted in Murle territories, it would be through the involvement of Murle intellectuals in diaspora, elders and the officials serving in the government of South Sudan but I am in doubt that Hon. Ismail Konye (the legal advisor of President) is free from this chaos in Jonglei with the support of Riek Machar.

The call that the state will be divided is not a solution but let us hold it for political purposes. The land does not fight people but people are the problem to themselves. I believe the separation of the state into small pieces will initially increase tribal competition in Jonglei rather than promoting the lasting peace and harmony. I am wondering which community will accept to share the state with Murle while they had shown an unfriendly manner. Anyuak would either join Ethiopia if they were to be forced to live in one State with Murle because they were the first to surrender cattle to Murle in search for peace. Dinka Bor may probably reject the unity of Murle simply because they are cattle owners and therefore, they should not live friendly together unless if they agree to surrender all cattle to Murle in exchange for peace, prosperity, and unity.

While the other Jonglei communities were condemning the act of the attacks to Lilkuangole, Murle were also conducting an attack to small communities in Lou Nuer areas, Dinka Bor community and the Gaawar community as well. On December 28, Murle attacked Buong, Dangjiok, Motot and they took around 120 cattle from those villages, leaving a number of people dead including the Sub-chief of Nyirol County who happened to be in Motot for legal follow up of community duty. Yesterday on December 29, they attacked Abiei Kolnyang payam from Dinka Bor County. They took the cattle, kidnapped few little one and killed at least one person.

It’s confirmed by then that the Murle men are everywhere before the Lou Nuer Youth group attacked Lilkuangole. This is ridicule from Murle community perspective; for one community could not disturbed the whole region because of issue of cattle, and ask the other communities to drop rearing of cattle. Anyuak finally drop rearing of these animals simply because Murle always disturbed and kill them repeatedly. Justification for Murle to kill people is simply a cattle driven interest not the issue of revenges or land dispute as proposed by Hon. Ismail Konye (the presidential advisor) because there has never been a claim of land from Murle neither.

It worth to know, that the relationship between Riek Machar and Murle community is a strategy to keep the region in chaos. The Lou Nuer community at large should remind themselves about Riek’s strategic political game in Jonglei. Years ago, Riek Machar went to Murle villages (Pibor) just for visit. When the Murle community heard that Riek is in Pibor, they organized themselves and brought all kidnapped children to Riek machar, a scenario that had never happened. When Nyandit was attacked by Murle, Riek Machar has never sent his condolence to the victims neither visiting them. In the same year of 2009, many Lou Nuer civilians were killed in Mareng and then recently in Uror county. If Riek Machar has such a smooth relationship with Murle, why not use it to mediate the community rather running in time of fighting. His speech in Lilkuanggole does not convince the civilians neither sends strong messages to the audiences. You can listen yourself and be the judge to the message if Riek Machar wanted peace in Jonglei http://www.reuters.com/video/2011/12/28/authorities-call-for-calm-amid-south-sud?rpc=401&videoId=227602049&feedType=VideoRSS&feedName=TopNews&rpc=401&videoChannel=1

This indicated that the government had not taken any serious action as to disarm Murle community or propose the peace initiative between the warring parties. This unequal treatment from the government for whatever reasons prompted an angry summons simple because of the strategic plan hatched and carried out only in some communities. After all, the government possessed neither the means nor the capacity to control and to protect these communities that left without any guns. Riek Machar had never visit the victims of Mareng, Uror and Nyandit neither sending his condolence messages to the family. The warning of Murle attacks had been on high alert and government representatives were informed by the community in Juba but no response made as to warn the Murle community about their brutal killings and looting of cattle in the areas.

The policy of “no one to intervene” reminded me of President Jaaper El Nimeri’s policy and strategy in old Sudan when he used to give a license to some South Sudanese residents in Northern Sudan to fight and kill themselves for some days. There is no government in the world that can allow its own civilians to fight against each other. The repeatedly attacks starkly demonstrated the failure of the South Sudan government to protect civilian from violence, particularly from intercommunal violence that appears to be intensifying.

Lou Nuer MPs and community members should know very well that Dr. Riek Machar is behind all these messes and killing because he was the one who ordered the disarmament of the Lou Nuer civilians and stop the SPLA forces not to disarmament Murle. Precisely in the name of unity of South Sudanese, the Lou Nuer elders including Hon. John Luk Jock, Hon. Yoal Dok Koryoam, and paramount chief Gatluak Thow Kuony intervened and forced the young men in Lou Nuer areas to accept the disarmament and surrender their guns to the authority even recently but why Murle elders do not intervene to mobilize their youth to accept peace?

Riek has a power to improve security and protect civilian from violence by recruiting, training and deploying more troops to the potential hotspot as vice president but because he knows that he disarmed the Lou Nuer civilian, he kindly returned back to his own parliament without deploying troops in the borders. The Lou Nuer who still in support of Riek Machar must evaluate their options or live in the death row; otherwise, the future of these Lou Nuer little children is at stake.

The writer is a member of Jonglei Federation in diaspora. You can reach him at [email protected]

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